A long-time lover of design, Nicole started her career working in fashion and quickly realized her love for interiors after starting a decorating blog and taking a few clients on the side. After working as a designer and establishing herself as a voice in the industry, Nicole saw an opportunity to translate her love for color into her business, Clare Paint.
Today, Nicole is redefining the paint industry as the founder and CEO of Clare and inspiring so many to give their spaces a new life in the process. We couldn’t be more excited to introduce Nicole as the latest guest in our Make Life Beautiful Series and share more about her!
Two of our favorite paint colors from Clare, Meet Cute & Good as Gold.
Babysitting! I actually used to babysit for a sweet girl who was right around my age but had severe Down Syndrome. I must have been around 14, and the experience taught me a lot about patience and empathy.
A space from Nicole’s portfolio. Image taken by David Land.
I grew up with a mom in the design industry, so I was exposed to the world of design from a young age and developed a passion for all things home. Post-college, I worked in PR for a very large fashion retailer in 2008. While still in that career, I started a decorating blog as a creative outlet and a side hustle design firm to test the waters of operating a design business — all while juggling my day job. I knew immediately that I wanted to pivot careers, but it was during the recession, so it took 5 years before I was ready to make the leap to focus on building my business full-time.
My goal was to ultimately transition my design career into media then build a brand that would one day be bigger than just my design firm. Shortly after leaving my day job, I landed my first TV opportunity on a DIY decorating show on the Oprah Winfrey Network! I was also featured regularly on morning shows like the Rachael Ray show. I had my work featured in titles like Elle Decor and House Beautiful – all of which helped to establish me as a credible authority on home. Still, it wasn’t enough. I wanted to share my aesthetic and design point of view with a broader audience and spent a lot of time thinking about the kind of brand I wanted to build.
I’ve always loved using color in fresh ways and appreciated the role that paint plays in a design project. I had a lightbulb moment that the paint industry was incredibly outdated, and I genuinely felt that I could build a better paint brand. For the average consumer who didn’t have the opportunity to work with a designer, the paint shopping experience was miserable…. A thousand colors to choose from and back and forth trips to the store.
I knew that I could bring my point of view on color and my experiences in omnichannel retail and interior design to build a paint company that was curated, approachable, fresh, and better for our indoor air quality and the environment. I initially raised $2 million in venture capital to bring my vision to life and launched Clare in 2018! Clare is a modern paint company designed for the way people shop today. We offer only the best, most beautifully curated paint colors and deliver everything you need to paint straight to your door.
From Nicole’s portfolio taken by Kristen Francis.
I would remind myself that life is a journey, and there is so much learning and growth along the way. Despite all that I’ve achieved, I’ve struggled with perfectionism and impostor syndrome. When I started out as a designer, I didn’t feel as qualified as others because I was self-taught — even with receiving a lot of recognition for my work. I experience similar feelings as a first-time CEO, along with a ton of pressure to know everything and do everything perfectly. I’ve learned more recently to embrace the journey and focus on continuous learning and progress over perfection.
A few beautiful spaces from Nicole’s apartment,taken by Kristen Francis.
I’ve always been influenced by fashion and the arts. There’s so much inspiration in the color palettes on runways and in museums! I always like to have a very fashion-forward point of view when it comes to design and believe your home decor should be just as strong of a reflection of your personal style as your wardrobe choices.
Image by Kristen Francis.
I’m a classic introvert. I really need a lot of solitude to clear my head and think in order to be creative. This means I generally get my best ideas when doing something like taking a shower or relaxing at the beach. Being in a more meditative state really helps to spark my most brilliant ideas.
A few styling moments we love from Nicole’s portfolio, taken by From Kristen Francis.
I’ve encountered a ton of challenges and have grown so much from building Clare. From figuring out how to manufacture paint to creating a new distribution model, developing a highly differentiated brand persona, learning the ins and outs of raising capital, and building the right team to help me execute my vision. These things comprise what has been my biggest challenge — taking something so large scale from an idea to execution. There are so many moving parts to building a company, and it’s been quite a journey.
Honestly, building Clare! I’m sure the idea of starting a paint brand to compete with legacy players in the space and pioneering a whole new model for paint shopping sounds insane to most people. I look at our Instagram and see all the beautiful homes across the country with our paint on their walls, sharing what an amazing experience they had with our brand, and it’s just incredible. My passion for design and helping people create beautiful homes has resulted in something that is helping people create beautiful homes on a much larger scale. And to know I built that feels surreal.
Stunning views from Nicole’s apartment by Kristen Francis.
At Clare, Q4 is a quieter time since people tend to be more focused on the holidays, so we’re gearing up for exciting things ahead in 2022. We’ll be launching exterior paint as well as some exciting collaborations…stay tuned!
A scene we love from Nicole’s space taken by David Land.
To learn more about Nicole, follow her and her company Clare on Instagram @nicolegibbonsstyle and @clarepaint, and check out Clare’s incredible paint selections clare.com!
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